Locals trek Kokoda as a tribute
Childers pair’s gruelling trek
TWO Childers men have decided to commemorate Anzac Day with the rather energetic step of trekking Papua New Guinea’s infamous Kokoda Track.
As you read this, Gary Ralph and Greg Upham are more than likely puffing and panting as they slog out the notoriously difficult walking trail, exploring the battlefields in an effort to grasp a better understanding of the Kokoda campaign.
Mr Ralph, 59, chief engineer at Isis Mill, and Mr Upham, 60, a cane farmer, are making their way through the unforgiving 96km trail, averaging a distance of 14km a day, which they estimate will take eight days to complete.
While it may seem like an impossible task, the duo have been rigorously training for the past three months in preparation for the momentous occasion.
To prepare for the razorback ridges of the Owen Stanley Ranges, the great mates have been putting their bodies to the test, undergoing circuit and pool training, hill climbs and long distance hikes.
Every Saturday, the pair would tackle Mt Woowoonga, near Biggenden, with weighted packs of up to 15kg.
Despite rising confidence in their improved fitness, the pair were realistic about what was ahead of them, acknowledging it wasn’t possible to entirely replicate the conditions at home that will confront them on Kokoda.
“Mud is the one thing we can’t really replicate here. That and the humidity,” Mr Upham said.
“It might still be raining, but the humidity will be extremely high. There will be a lot more hills than we’ve been training for.”
But that hasn’t stopped the pair from believing in themselves.
“Hopefully the psyche will be that all of a sudden you’ll develop the attitude every metre forward is the less you have to do,” Mr Ralph said.
Mr Upham added: “The more fit you are, the easier it will be. The more prepared you are for it, the more you’ll enjoy it.”
For the two friends, tackling the track was an important step in piecing together the historic event.
“It almost should be compulsory for everybody in Australia to go over... anybody who thinks there’s any misguided glory of war, they want to think again,” Mr Upham said.
“I hope we can really appreciate the whole story of it better.”
READY, SET, TREK: Gary Ralph and Greg Upham are walking the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in the lead-up to Anzac Day.